Cheating in school is probably as old as school itself but the means by which students can – and do – cheat today have changed dramatically through the years. Or perhaps the basic means of cheating has stayed the same, but the tools have changed. Now if students want to share a copy of a test with friends they snap a pic with their cell phone. Or when facing a difficult paper to write, students can turn to the internet for countless takes on the same subject.
That’s where Common Sense Media’s new study of Hi-Tech Cheating comes in (pdf report). Most parents and teachers likely knew that today’s technology can be used for cheating (76% of parents say cell phone cheating happens), but the degree to which it is a problem and student attitudes toward cheating were perhaps less clear (only 3% of parents say their child has cheated with a cell phone). The findings are startling and clear:
- More than a third of teens with cell phones have used them to cheat at lease once.
- Half of teens have used the internet to cheat at some point
- Two thirds of teens say others cheat with cell phones
- Nearly a quarter of students don’t think sharing notes or test answers on their cell phone counts as cheating.
It may be that last part that is so shocking. I think almost everybody would have predicted that students know when they are cheating, but for whatever reason don’t care. That is to say, they would rather cheat than do the work otherwise required. Somehow, though, students have gotten the message that searching the internet on their phones during a test or texting friends questions or answers doesn’t add up to cheating.
All of these findings may signal that parents need to have conversations with their children about cheating and what it means to cheat. It also may mean that teachers and schools are going to have to rethink how they combat cheating and enforce rules and policies regarding cell phones. And even beyond that, it becomes that much harder to encourage students to use the internet as a research tool, even though it is the most powerful tool for research students have ever had – not even counting the opportunities to cheat.
In an effort to support parent efforts to combat this hi-tech cheating, Common Sense Media has many resources available on their website to help parents know what they can do. The tips are often practical and are often things that can be easily overlooked.
As always, I’m interested in what people have to say. Have you talked to your child(ren) about cheating? What’s you’re story? Leave a note in the comments below.
(via CNet News)